Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Thu 24.1.13, Afternoon
Summary: more house demolitions, more life destruction, “voluntary transfer”
11:45 – Ma’ale Efrayim Checkpoint – unmanned.
12:15 – Hamra Checkpoint is manned by reserves soldiers. Two of them approach us as soon as we appear at the junction. They are friendly to us. From the Palestinians we hear they are much less friendly to them… A Palestinian with whom we conversed was then questioned at length and checked by the same soldiers as he wanted to cross the checkpoint Nablus-bound.
So far, and for a long time, Palestinians on their way to Area A were not inspected here. They just had to wait for the soldier’s hand signal to advance and then crossed without any further ado. Now every third car is stopped, IDs are checked, doors opened, the cabin rummaged, crates are unloaded for inspection etc. The process is slow and waiting lines of over 8 vehicles accumulate during each such inspection.
Cars traveling from the hills of the West Bank down to the Palestinian Jordan Valley are inspected but there is no passage restriction – after all the passengers disembark and are forced to cross the checkpoint on foot. And provided no one is wanted for a “Shabak interrogation”.
Close until the next army maneuvers when some tank will crush it again.
House demolitions: we received a phone call informing us of demolitions which just took place in the Jiftlik village and at Hamam Al Maleh. In the Jiftlik 3 homes were destroyed and one animal shelter (according to OCHA reports).
At Hamam Al Maleh we met an elderly couple whom we have known for years now, standing helpless amidst torn plastic sheets and aluminum rods bent out of shape and useless, next to an empty square space that was obviously a dwelling, its earthen floor straight and neat. Now it’s empty. A week ago, on January 17th, there were massive home demolitions, among which the tent dwelling of the couple was destroyed. Their children have long since left the area, and two of them – a son and daughter – now live in Israel. Two days later, on Saturday, January 19th, the Occupation authorities imposed a closed military zone order for several days. After the order was rescinded, the Red Cross brought some tents to the site. Today, before we arrived, the army simply crushed and took the Red Cross tent and all of its contents – the scant possession of this elderly couple. So they wouldn’t be able to recover their lives, God forbid. It’s been hours, the couple stand next to the wreckage – no tent, no belongings, and apparently no one left to help them. The woman has visibly aged years in this recent week. Her arm is fractured (she fell) and very swollen. No money for medical care, nor for medication. How will they get through the freezing night without a roof over their heads or a mattress under their bodies?
Five months ago I was stuck next to this encampment – my car wouldn’t start, and I waited for two hours in the scalding heat of midday to be towed away. The whole time this same woman ran back and forth from the family's stove with a tea pot, begging me to drink so as not to get dehydrated. Now, I had no way of helping her in this predicament.
The typical sights of torn plastic and bent rods and piles of personal effects and papers are repeated time and again. But the bent back, the lost gaze, the tear in the corner of the eye are unbearable. You look for words of consolation, something encouraging, and find none, for you do not know what it’s like to suddenly find yourself exposed in the world, in summer heat or the frost of winter, aged or a child – the world stops and no one is there to help.
Next to the debris of this encampment, east of the stone house at Hamam Al Maleh is a new encampment. About10 tents and new sheep stalls. We inquire – there are some of those who were expelled from a higher site nearly in early January (see report of Jordan Valley of January 3rd, 2013) for a single night during a military maneuver, and decided to remain here where they camped, even after they were allowed to go back. Luckily, perhaps, because most of the encampments in the area of the maneuvers were destroyed by the army on January 17th.
On our way home we see numerous soldiers arriving at the area, disembarking from buses.
16:30 – Ma’ale Efrayim – unmanned.
Late addition: January 27th, 2013 – I receive a telephone call from X ( I have his name and telephone number) – two days ago metal stakes and other building materials were taken off a pickup truck traveling from the Tubas area. The soldiers threw them next to the entrance of the army base and they are still scattered there. No Palestinian dares approach and retrieve these rare materials.
Today the soldiers did not allow a resident of En Al Beda (northern Palestinian Jordan Valley) to cross with his tractor because he was carrying animal feed. They told him: Either leave the feed here or drive back to Tubas. And where would he get feed for his livestock? All the produce that the Valley inhabitants consume comes from the central West Bank.